Café Minamdang – K-Drama Episode 8 Recap & Review

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Episode 8 of Café Minamdang starts with Han-jun in mortal peril. Luckily, Jae-hui chooses this moment to bother him, causing Tae-su to skulk into a stall to avoid discovery.

Their positions reverse when Tae-su hits the flush. Han-jun pulls Jae-hui into a stall with him, and with the coast now clear, Tae-su makes his exit. He didn’t completely escape Han-jun’s notice, though. The profiler picked up on his presence, hard gaze and the disparity between his fine suit and rough skin.

Han-jun and Jae-hui reluctantly share information, leading to a joint strategy. It goes askew and ends with Jin-sang being electrocuted, but Han-jun does manage to check Jin-sang’s forearm and finds no burn scar.

This checks out with the call Jae-hui gets from Do-won as Jin-sang is being loaded into an ambulance. He has verified that Jin-sang had an alibi during the murder.

Where one lead fizzles out another appears. Su-cheol and Detective Jang find the trainee that messaged Eun-hye – Lee Ji-eun. She reports that she forgot her wallet after training one day, and when she came back to get it, Eun-hye was performing in front of some people she had never seen before.

Ji-eun, initially jealous, took her phone out to record proof of what she thought was a secret extra lesson. Her resent quickly subsided when the woman in the room said something that made Eun-hye cry and start undressing. Scared to share Eun-hye’s fate, Ji-eun deleted the video and sold her phone.

Filled with regret, Ji-eun hands over the buyer’s contact details. He’s down south on an island, which is where the Minamdang crew, Jae-hui, Detective Jang and Do-won soon find themselves.

Each group tries to get the buyer to hand the phone over to them. With a hefty bribe, Han-jun wins the phone, but Jae-hui wastes no time snatching it right out of his hands. There’s a huge scuffle that pulls everyone except Hye-jun in. She makes herself comfortable and watches them wrestle for the phone until the last boat off the island leaves.

Now that they’re all stranded for the night, no one complains when Hye-jun takes the phone to retrieve the deleted footage. Once she does, they watch the scene that Ji-eun described. There are three people in the room with Eun-hye, including Tae-su. With him is a woman that looks to be in charge and a man with curly hair and a noticeable birthmark on his face

Later, Jae-hui sits alone at a bonfire on the beach. Han-jun joins her and they both reminisce about Jae-jeong, though Han-jun doesn’t realise that’s who Jae-hui refers to. After Han-jun recalls Gopuri’s burn scar and Jae-hui describes finding the murder video, they come to the realisation that they’ve both been doing all they could with the information they had.

Jae-hui sincerely apologises this time, and Han-jun reveals that he regrets not having gone to help Jae-jeong before facing his killer. There’s a moment where they might even kiss, but the atmosphere is shattered by the appearance of Do-won.

Do-won walks Jae-hui back to their accommodation and expresses his disappointment at the fact that Jae-hui seems more comfortable with Han-jun than him. He asks her to remember that he’s always on her side, and she repeats the sentiment back at him.

The two groups go their separate ways the next morning, the phone staying with Jae-hui. Han-jun makes it clear that he doesn’t want to continue cooperating, a decision that Su-cheol calls into question on their drive back. Han-jun thinks that it would only draw Gopuri’s attention.

As the detectives drive home, Ji-eun calls with something else she remembered: Eun-hye always got off the subway at Hankuk University station.

Later, Hye-jun identifies the second man in the footage with Eun-hye. Named Jeon Gyeong-cheol, he left the country whenever Eun-hye did and runs a livestream service that could be more aptly described as a porn studio. Observing his travel patterns, Han-jun points to expedition gambling.

Su-cheol recognises Gyeong-cheol’s name and reveals that he’s the acting chief of the Jjokmun gang. Su-cheol also knows of one Madame Wang, aka Queen Bee, who might know more about the overseas trips.

Jae-hui and Detective Jang have spent their day asking about Eun-hye around the station. Their hard work pays off when a barista recognises Eun-hye’s picture and points them to an apartment building. Its estate manager says that Eun-hye lived there with her ‘uncle’. The name on the lease is Gyeong-cheol’s. Detective Jang also knows of his reputation.

Meanwhile, Han-jun and Su-cheol find Madame Wang at a luxury store and use her attraction to Su-cheol to get her to spill the beans. At Gyeong-cheol’s request, enticed by his deep pockets filled by the purses of famous politicians and businessmen, Madame Wang brought him her ace performers. Gyeong-cheol apparently then brought the director of Joyce Entertainment to interview them.

Do-won’s assistant has been tracking the movement of Joyce Entertainment’s funds and found that they used their company card in Southeast Asia. The purchaser was Gyeong-cheol. Further conversation confirms that Do-won is related to Jin-sang and his father.

The Minamdang crew does reconnaissance work outside the Jjokmun gang headquarters and witnesses the gangsters abducting a woman. Hye-jun identifies her as Re-a, an adult entertainment streamer who was clearly high during her last broadcast before she was yanked off camera. Han-jun hypothesises that she would have had to participate in the livestreams to pay off her debt to Jjokmun, a debt that would have only grown to feed her drug addiction.

Hye-jun finds a similar case involving a streamer named Eun-a who disappeared a few months ago under the same circumstances. The crew hatches a new plot to save Re-a and get their hands on a safe inside the building.

Han-jun gets into character and strolls into the building, announcing to the low-level thugs in the den by the entrance that they’re being haunted by Eun-a. He’s in for a beating until they start hearing the AI-generated voice of Eun-a, courtesy of Hye-jun, being played from Na-dan’s portable speaker. Na-dan himself is dressed as a ghost standing outside the room while Su-cheol uses a smoke machine to cloud the air.

When the men beg Han-jun to get rid of the ghost, he locks them in their den and tells them not to look or come out until he’s exorcised the building.

Further inside, Gyeong-cheol terrorises Re-a and relegates her role to one that will now require making videos and taking clients. Han-jun sets Su-cheol on Gyeong-cheol and his men.

Outside, the detectives and Do-won arrive. Seeing this, Hye-jun and Na-dan decide to escape while they still can.

Back inside, Su-cheol has handled the situation, and Gyeong-cheol is now dangling by his ankle over a pit of stakes. The very pointy threat forces him to tell them the safe code. Inside is the Jjokmun entertainment profile and modelling fee payments.

Su-cheol pulls Gyeong-cheol back onto steady ground, and Han-jun demands to know how Joyce Entertainment and Jjokmun are related. Gyeong-cheol doesn’t seem to have a good relationship with Jin-sang and claims that, though he knows Joyce Entertainment is involved in the overseas trips, he doesn’t know the nitty gritty of it.

Han-jun just gets around to asking if someone with a burn scar organised everything when Jae-hui comes in, taser raised. Gyeong-cheol uses the distraction to grab a metal pipe and creep up behind Han-jun. Han-jun thinks that Jae-hui’s commands for Gyeong-cheol to stop are aimed at him. While Han-jun heads them, Gyeong-cheol does not.

Jae-hui shoots… and tases Han-jun.

The epilogue puts us in the room when the mysterious woman made Eun-hye undress. The same woman turns out to be the person Tae-su called about Han-jun when he recognised him.

The Episode Review

This episode was a reminder of just how wacky this show is willing to get. And it worked. So far, the mystery/thriller aspects aren’t anything new or particularly special, but the play-shamanism and the eccentric characters pull it through.

We got some really fun moments, like Han-jun getting frightened by his own plan and the recreation of that famous scene from Goblin (yes, the walking one). The beach fight was so stupid that it was hilarious, made even better by the rivalry growing between Han-jun and Do-won.

I can do nothing but applaud the audacity that it took for the writers to work in the type of overnight camping trip arc usually reserved for romance/high school dramas. We were one step away from an anime beach episode.

There have been little sloppy moments in the writing each episode that are annoying but easy to ignore when you’re distracted by the circus. For example, why didn’t Detective Jang recognise Gyeong-cheol, whose birthmark he later described in detail, when they watched the footage? And why didn’t the Minamdang crew use their earpieces for their Jjokmun stakeout when they’ve used them for everything else? I also don’t think Han-jun’s reasoning for working apart holds up, especially after the bonfire conversation exposed the pitfalls of doing so. It feels more like a device to keep up their rivalry.

So, while I’m having a great time, go into this for the goofball characters and don’t expect stellar writing when it comes to the rest.

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